Thursday, 20 February 2014

Behaviour: A Type of Pheromone

This reading is based on Ecclesiastes 4 that is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
"Awake, O north wind, and come, O south! Blow upon my garden that its spices may flow out. Let my beloved come to his garden and eat its pleasant fruits." Verse 16
"Blow upon my garden that its spices may flow out." Could this be referring to a sort of human pheromone? Pheromones are chemical secretions (typically airborne) that emit from one organism, but affects the behaviour of another organism of the same species. Here you get a clear sense that although the chemical is carried by the wind, the one who secretes the pheromone so controls its release that is seems targeted at a selected mate.
I want to see human behaviour as a type of pheromone itself that stimulates responses from those around. Sometimes these behaviours reach the extreme level of being flirtatious. A flirtation is typically seen a signal for sexual engagement without serious commitment. But it is also practiced in marriages and is one way for a spouse to indicate to the other that he/she is in a certain mood. There is also an extent to which, outside a marriage union, we give off signals that indicate our interest to get to know another individual a bit more, but it does not reach the level of sexual engagement. Over time however, and after marriage, the sexual act may come into play. What is significant here is that this "pheromone" is CONTROLLED; it is SELECTIVELY RELEASED and pulls in SPECIFIC TARGETS. While other prospects may come, if they don't satisfy the established criteria they will not be permitted into the "garden." It behooves adult singles to behave in a manner that will attract the ideal prospect; as not all signals will attract the right person.
In another sense our behaviour will attract or repel the Holy Spirit and other heaven appointed agencies. Sometimes by our behaviour we invite demons into our lives - who may incidentally come with the wrong mate we attract and accept into our lives.
Father, I pray especially for those who are not yet married to be able to attract and accept the right person into their lives, and that by the same token make way for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Please strengthen the ideal marriages, and reform those that are weak we pray, in Jesus' name, amen.

To read and/or listen to Ecclesiastes 4 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Get Up and Go: In Search of a Mate!

This reading is based on Songs of Solomon 3 that is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
"Do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases." Verse 5
This statement is implicit with the view that there is a right time for an intimate love relationship between a man and a woman, and that by extension a warning against entering into this kind of relationship prematurely. Intimacy requires maturity or could otherwise set one up for major emotional scarring. There are also other implications about relationships in this passage.
Implication 1: Loneliness is not an excuse to "settle" for any "mate" who comes along; seek for one worthy of your love, not for anyone who just happens to be available. Love in this regard is a choice to open yourself to intimacy (eros) with an individual, based on certain criteria being met, and in no way suggests that we should love (philia) some persons, while we dislike others. May I suggest that there is just one love, but there are appropriate ways of expressing it - depending on whom you're dealing with. How might this counsel especially young Seventh-day Adventist women who are languishing from the seeming dearth of eligible young men, and who consequently are settling for non-Christian mates in worrying droves? In the spiritual sense also, shouldn't we be cautious about making choices based on things like a miraculous healing experienced, or the fact that we may have had some desperate "need" met? Whatever our circumstance, we should hold out for truth.
Implication 2: An eligible mate should be SOUGHT - not in the sense of pursuing per se, but that the eyes and mind should be actively engaged in identifying an eligible prospect. We should sift through the criteria. Reasonably however, one should put oneself in a position to observe or be observed by an appropriate possible prospect. Here I believe that an active engagement in mission (wherever that takes you) does help the cause.Get up and go! You take care of God's business, and He'll take care of yours (as He deems best for you). It might just be that God has a mate for you at your next mission post.
Implication 3: In trying to make a choice it will become necessary to seek the counsel of others. Ask the "watchmen," (verse 3). Read, talk to your pastor, talk to trusted/respected family members and friends. Sometimes you're too emotionally charged to see the truth. A similar mode of investigation should accompany the pursuit of the Truth about God.

To read and/or listen to Ecclesiastes 3 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

Photo credits: Click here

Monday, 17 February 2014

Of Nourishment, Comfort and Pleasure: Breasts and the Bible

This reading is based on Songs of Solomon 1 that is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Let's Talk Sex
It is most unfortunate that the sex act has been so misused and abused that what God had intended to be the most beautiful experience between a male husband and female wife has become a largely tabooed subject. It has become a tool of abuse of the innocent and vulnerable, and a weapon of rebellion against God. It's misuse has targeted the integrity and sanctity of marriage. There is likely no other act on earth that so closely brings the human being into experiencing the thrill and joy of creation that our Creator must have experienced when in the beginning He made us. The process of procreation is arguably the most beautiful experience that a male husband and female wife can share. Yet it is perhaps the very thing that makes it so beautiful (the authentically intense feeling of love and devotion; the high) that makes is so easy for the devil to use it to manipulate and wrench us away from God's ideal.

In approaching Songs of Solomon for me all discussions and allusions are understood within the context of the biblical model of marriage and in the natural mother/child relationship. With that said, may I share my thoughts on a subject raised in verse 13 - breasts!

Breasts and the Bible
The PG nature of this forum would not allow me to be much more graphic than to simply state that the breasts are a source of NOURISHMENT, COMFORT, and PLEASURE. Nourishment and comfort as I would have in my formative years received from my mother; comfort and pleasure as I receive from my wife. Incidentally, in a real way, the same can be safely said of the Bible with its Old and New Testaments.

Source of Nourishment
As nourishment we see where Jesus Who is the Word, is also the Bread of Life (John 1: 1-3, 14; 6: 35). Peter in 1 Peter 2: 2 tells us, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere MILK OF THE WORD, that ye may grow thereby:"

Source of Comfort
As a source of comfort we see where Paul, though referring in primary context to the subject he was dealing with, but in a secondary manner also spoke of Scripture in general said, "Wherefore COMFORT one another with these words." 1 Thess. 4: 18. All Bible promises are a source of comfort.

Source of Pleasure
As a source of pleasure, we see where Psalmist uttered the words, "I DELIGHT to do Thy will, O my God; yea Thy law is within my heart." Ps. 40: 8. Before that the Psalmist spoke in Psalm 16: 11, "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is FULLNESS OF JOY; at thy right hand there are PLEASURES for evermore." God shows us the path of life through His Word (living and written).

I pray that what my mother's breasts did for me, and what my wife's breasts do for me now, is what the Bible will do for me and so much more. I also pray that in your own contexts you will fully experience the nourishment, comfort and pleasure of the two Testaments of the Bible, amen.

To read and/or listen to Songs of Solomon 1 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

Image credit: click here.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Death: the Trilogy


This reading is based on Ecclesiastes 9 that is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
"For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten."
Physical Death
This is the first death (implied by reference to a second death, Rev 2: 11; 20: 6, 14; 21: 8), that all on earth has or will experience at one time or another. All who die this death will come back again, some will be raised to live forever thereafter, and others to face eternal (second) death (John 5: 29). Those who are raised to live eternally will receive new, incorruptible bodies (1 Cor. 15: 42, 50, 53, 54) - because "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." In a sense then, death is a transition station for the saint (even as they, in total rest and silence, await the final works of the Saviour before He returns to call them back to life). Those who will be translated will receive an express service of physical death and instant resurrection. Flesh and blood cannot abide the presence of a holy God whose glory will be unveiled - for He shall come in power and great glory (Matt 24: 30).
Death to Self (the old man)
Paul says in Gals. 2: 20, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." In Romans 6 he speaks about being crucified with Christ and being raised to a new life in Him - as symbolized through the rite of baptism. As indicated in Eccl. 9: 6 where those who die, "will never more share in anything done under the sun," so those who die to sin should no longer engage in the works of sin. Rom 6: 6 says, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."
Spiritual Death
It is a fearful thing to be spiritually death - considering that death means unresponsiveness, a state of being unaffected by what happens around you. In context, this would mean unresponsiveness to the Holy Spirit. Thank God the Plan of Salvation covers all cases of death, and so this most threatening state is not a hopeless one. All who are spiritually dead may yet be quickened by the Word of God. The Psalmist says in Ps. 119: 50, "This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me." Paul, the prolific New Testament theologian, says in Ephesians 2: 1, 5, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)."
Father, we pray you revive (quicken) us from spiritual death, and that indeed we would die daily to self, so when we are confronted with physical death it won't be with a hopeless dread. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.

To read and/or listen to Ecclesiastes 9 and to read other related blogs, please click here 

Photo credit: Click here

Friday, 7 February 2014

Measuring Time: Going Left on the Number Line

This reading is based on Ecclesiastes 3 that is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.
"To everything there is a season; a time for every purpose under heaven." Ecc. 3: 1
The number line is a mathematical tool that is used to especially help children learn basic arithmetic (addition and subtraction). Significantly, there are positive and negative numbers on a number line, with zero being the point of origin. When you're adding on the number line you go right; when subtracting, left. When you start at zero and go right, you are accumulating a positive value; when you go left however, you're are increasing the negative value.
Imagine that life is like living on a number line. And because we're alive WE HAVE TO MOVE; we either go right, or we go left. On the number line zero represents the point at which we decide how much time we will spend on an activity. If we decide to engage then we'll move right and begin to count the time (seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years). We can otherwise decide not to engage - in which case, we move left. Understand this, when we go right (positively engage in an action) we are building its legacy and increase the chances of other persons becoming similarly engaged. When we go left, we do the opposite.
                    negative number is any number to the left of 0 on the number line.
May I suggest that notwithstanding the seeming latitude given in the passage above, there are some things that we should never do; but should instead go left. The Apostle John says, "My little children, these things write I unto you that you SIN NOT..." 1 John 2: 1. Later on in this book Solomon will encourage us to remember our Creator in our youth, and that our duty is to fear Him and keep His commandment. And then there are some things that are not necessarily sinful, but may cause us undue hurt and inconvenience (like some bad relationship choices, or making the wrong career choice). We should avoid those as well. Paul says in Romans 15: 4, "For whatsoever things were written in times past, were written for our learning...." There are some things we're expected to learn - not from our own indulgence, but by simply learning from another's experience. That's wisdom!
Father in Heaven, please grant each of us the wisdom to know when to go right, and when to go left. Our hope and desire is that all that we do will build the legacy of holiness on this earth we pray in Jesus' name, amen.

To read and/or listen to Ecclesiastes 3 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

Photo credits: Click here

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Life's Futility: In the Shadow of Nebuchadnezzar's Golden Image

This reading is based on Eccleciastes 2 that is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.

"I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds.
So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me...."
From what you know of Nebuchadnezzar's story, how aptly could the above tell his story? As the story did go, he resisted the insinuation from the interpretation of the troubling dream he got that, though designated the head of gold (Daniel 2), his kingdom (yeah his reign) would end. He therefore in protest built an image of gold as an expression of his desire to remain the super power for all time. But was this about power or about life; bearing in mind that power without life is pointless?
I posit that God read in the motive and deep desire of Nebuchadnezzar, not so much resistance and rebellion, or even a quest for power, but rather a desire to live and to not die. Nebuchadnezzar, who as the head of gold would have had a "good" life as portrayed in the verses above, was seemingly as haunted by the sheer emptiness and vanity of life as the Preacher was - for it was to "pointlessly" end. From the angle of this concern God courted him.
What may God make of our quests in life? Are we resigned to dying, and to just "milk" life for what fleeting pleasures we may yet extract from it until we die? Or do we want to LIVE? Critically, how do we respond to God's attempts at getting our attention?
From being reminded of his dream to receiving its interpretation; from the fiery furnace faceoff to the seven-year journey with the beasts; God contended with Nebuchadnezzar on what it means to really live; how death may indeed be overcome. At length Nebuchadnezzar got it, and in God-inspired wisdom declared, "And at the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me. And I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored Him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His Kingdom is from generation to generation. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways judgment. And those that walk in pride He is able to abase." Dan. 4: 34, 37.
How will it end for us; will we get it before its too late? So Lord, "Teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom," (Ps. 90: 12) amen.

To read and/or listen to Ecclesiastes 2 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

Photo Credits: Click here.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Beyond the Pointless Grind: The Samson Phenomenon

(This reading is based on Ecclesiastes 1 that is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.)

"'Vanity of vanities' says the preacher, 'vanity of vanities, all is vanity.'" Ecc. 1: 2.

The imagery of Samson in Judges 16, now in captivity with his eyes plucked out, and who is set to grind in prison, paints a vivid picture of the pointless nature of life without Christ. It speaks of vanity.

Samson's Experience: a Reality Check Outside of Christ
1. Samson's captivity represents our own captivity to sinful addictions (Rom. 6: 16)
2. The loss of Samson's eyes represents Laodicea state of blindness declared in Rev. 3: 17
3. The circular motion of Samson's daily grinding routine illustrates that though we constantly move we cover very little ground.

What a tragic summary of life without Christ: blindly walking in circles, reaching nowhere, seeing nothing new. Little wonder then that the preacher would declare, "Vanity of vanities... vanity of vanities, all is vanity." Ecc. 1: 2.

Let's Pray
Father in Heaven we would indeed reach beyond this pointless grind of life without Christ. Thank you for the offer of Salvation that we have in Him; for the wisdom so freely offered to guide our steps; the washing of our eyes with eye salve that we may see. Please break the chains that would bind us to the grind of sinful, fruitless addictions. We ask that You lead us to the central pillars of life as we know it on earth. Then we would that You grant us the strength of wisdom to tear down life's folly, we ask in Jesus' name, amen.

To read and/or listen to Ecclesiastes 1 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

Photo credit: click here

Monday, 3 February 2014

Just Enough: at pH Centre

(This reading is based on Proverbs 30 that is read in accordance with the Revived by His Word initiative of the General Conference of SDAs.)
"Give me neither poverty nor riches—feed me with the food allotted to me." Prov. 30: 8
To not desire riches is a place that I aspire to be; to not be poor however... well, that's easy. How though, do I achieve contentment with "just enough:" being neither rich, nor poor?
A subtle clue could very well exist in water. With a pH reading of 7 (neutral), it falls in the middle of the pH scale. With our bodies being approximately 70% water, water is the universally best drink to sustain and replenish the body. The body however is not 100% water and so will need more than just water to be nourished. Also, based on prevailing health conditions some of us may need more of one type of nourishment than another.
Now, notwithstanding the ideal we are in reality each placed at a level that does not necessarily strike the mid mark - some of us struggle a bit more than others, while others handle much more than they can personally consume. Whatever lot we find ourselves in, it is for us to learn what ministry should evolve from our prevailing situation. The widow must give her two mites, or share her last meal; Joseph of Arimathea must give up his tomb, or the rich must sell what they have and give to the poor. Either way, whatever we have belongs to God, and relative to God's provisions are His requirements of us. The bottom line is that after we give, we must depend on God.
Jesus shared this principle in His Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew 6: 33, 34, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."

To read and/or listen to Proverbs 30 and to read other related blogs, please click here.

Photo credits: